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When Religion Becomes Toxic and Full of Lies

Amudim Awareness Event About Drug Addiction, Overdose, Depression and Suicide

1 hr

Class Summary:

A lecture by Rabbi YY Jacobson presented at an Amudim Awareness Event in Forest Hill, Queens, NY, on March 4, 2017. This event was held in response to many recent cases of overdose and suicide in the Jewish community. This is a sharp speech about confronting the crisis of youths losing their lives to addiction and despair, and the layers of deceptions and lies that allow the crisis to fester.

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  • S

    shaya -2 years ago

    I recently watched a speech you gave in Amudim,  about loving your child as he is, you said a poignant story about the soldier that returned from veitnam , without a leg and arm etc.

    It reminded me of an amazing idea I once heard from Rabbi Avrum M . Malach. 
    We see by Hagar and her son Ishmael, when they were chased out of Abraham house upon Sarah's request,  we see Hagar had no water to drink and almost given up, until an angel appeared before her And comforted her. We see among the things the angel to her,  was her sons destiny, וידו בכל ויד כל בו.   והוא יהיה פרא אדם וכו'Looking into these verses it is amazing how the angel tells her about how son will grow up to be a wild animal hated by all,  is that a blessing?

    That's what the angel blessed her with?

    The answer is : yes
    Sometimes the greatest blessing is when you have zero expectations from a child, then you are satisfied with every little accomplishment.  You really appreciate whatever the child does.
     Hager got the greatest blessing from the angel,, from now on she can cherish her child , as is,, without any expectations. 

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  • T

    Tzvi -4 years ago

    Very true

    Kol machlokes sehe lesham shamayim sofah lhiskayem -i heard a vort :any mahlokes that u say it is "lesham shamayim!" Then it dosent end... 

    Thank you

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  • J

    Josh -4 years ago

    Rabbi Jacobson. I recently came across your video on YouTube on toxic religiosity, when you were giving a lecture and some Bucharian event in Queens. I have to say that your message really hit home with me. I myself grew up in the Chareidi community in the five towns. I recently been ostracized by the entire community for nonconforming. There’s a lot more to my story. In fact one of the reasons I’m sending you this message, is because I’m a single dad, and my nine-year-old daughter, who I’m very close with, suggested it. And yes, I’ve been listening to her since the day she was born. And she knows it, and appreciates it.

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    • ST

      Sara Tal -1 year ago

      You have to tell me more about this! I'm in shock, because the community is supposed to be friendly and diverse. I happen to have a friend from my yeshiva in monsey and some relatives who live there. You might like monsey, they are supposed to be more laid back. Maybe you will like Lakewood. I happen to live there. They are also more conformitive, but very different from the 5 towns

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    • ST

      Sara Tal -1 year ago

      There are also a lot of young families in far Rockaway as well. When you have families in the same age group living together, it can cause some  conformity too.

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  • N

    noach -6 years ago

    This is a poem by Noah Lubin. (http://hevria.com/noahlubin...

    Do you know the convert down the block
    the one who traded heaven with Jesus
    for Hell
    with you and me in Brooklyn?
    I saw him in the Mikva yesterday
    renewing his promise.
    I waded nearby like a still rubber duck.
    We were both naked.
    Looking down into the water,
    I remembered that my covenant was made when I was a child,
    half drunk.
    His was cut while he was grown
    and hairy, like Esau
    wide awake.

    I wondered,
    was he only chasing after the blessing
    that Jacob stole?
    I mean, what was it he wanted
    down here,
    with you and me, in Brooklyn?

    Do you know the convert down the block,
    the one who traded easy nights with girls
    for study books in our grandfather’s synagogue?
    I saw him outside the bakery last week
    buying two Sabbath challahs
    like the two pieces of “maan”
    collected in the desert on our way out of Egypt.
    One was for himself, the other for God.
    (Who else to share with when you eat alone?)
    I stood there holding whiskey,
    all for me
    none for God.
    We both stared off into the cloudy sky,
    our beards dangling.
    His, the hanging grapevines of Eden,
    mine like the hanging gardens of Babylon
    or perhaps wool
    taken from a sheep,
    like that taken for Jacob’s arm
    when he tricked his father.
    I stood there thinking,
    empty like a broken Sukkah booth.
    I couldn’t help but ponder, what was it he wanted
    down here with you and me in Brooklyn?

    When I see him, this convert,
    he reminds me of all my boyish fantasies,
    the ones I never gave up:
    my jealousy
    the shopping malls I could have roamed
    on the Sabbath,
    the fictional “shiksas” I never had,
    all the things I would trade my birthright for,
    like Esau,
    at some darker hour.
    I was even curious of the “non judgmental” loving heaven with Jesus
    that I could have earned through only one mitzva
    instead of 613.
    When I see this convert,
    he reminds me of everything I never became,
    an Adam from the earth’s dust,
    an Abraham from an idolatrous homeland,
    an Isaac who conceded as a grown man
    to God’s command,
    wide awake.

    In the mikvah, he reminds me
    that I keep float as a rubber duck
    with a long yellow beard
    quacking empty blessings like a NY taxi horn.
    But, what I’m reminded of most from this orphan, this widow, this stranger,
    is that blessing ,
    down here with you and me in Brooklyn,
    never comes easy,
    And every Rosh Hashana I pray that God takes me out of Ur Kasdim.
    Every Pesach I pray
    that I’m taken from my own Egypt
    and I pray that he rebuilds me like Adam from the earth
    a new creation.
    But this year specifically,
    I pray that God,
    in his infinite and shapeless mercy,
    makes me a convert, a stranger
    so that I,
    with a broken heart
    like Esau,
    can chase after my father’s blessing
    wide awake.

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    • G

      GG -6 years ago

      Who are you? Your thoughts and words are amazing and poignant. Touched my heart so deeply. Yasher Koach!

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    • YBSI

      Yael bat Sarah Imanu -6 years ago

      This poem saddens me. My husband and I come from similar backgrounds and we looked forward to walking together as we went through conversion together at a Traditional/Modern Orthodox shul. We weren't young at all...both in our early 40s...but this was the Path we chose. The day came as we each appeared before tge Beit Din then went to Mikveh. I felt resolute, confident, happy, and at great Peace. We faced our very Christian families together; his much more accepting of our Path than mine. For a while, he met the call to join minyan every day and I worked. But in 2007, we got the call that his dear mother (of blessed memory) had fallen at home in Alabama. During the emergency room visit, a large tumor was discovered in her lung. Her disease was deemed inoperable and, at most, chemo "might make her comfortable but very ill." She made the decision to forego treatment and enter into hospice. Leonard went home to care for her while I returned to work in Dallas. Meanwhile, the rabbinate changed hands at shul. Due to our financial situation to care for his mother, I had no choice but to work every Shabbat afternoon as a Registered Nurse flying back and forth to relieve the family on weekends. Sadly, we lost our dear mother...but I lost even more. Due to the change in the rabbinate, word did not get passed that my husband and I were struggling with a difficult family situation. We returned home and my husband found it difficult to cope with his mother's death. We didn't have a "normal" Jewish bereavement because his family were Christians. We had just the two of us to sit Sheva in a remote Alabama backwoods Christian environment and my husband was plagued with memories of watching his father die in a farm accident when my husband was 5 years old. The mourning was heavy when we returned. But even more vicious was the reception my husband received when he returned to shul. He never got a call for minyan, never received another Aliyah, never got another invitation for event participation at shul. Soon my husband was thrown into a deep tunnel of sadness, despair, then dark depression. I didn't know what to do so I made an appointment with Rabbi. My heart poured out and tears flowed. I was at my wit's end in wanting to help my husband. Rabbi listened patiently then leaned back and asked about our conversion. I was startled because the issue was not our conversion but feeling alone in a dry wilderness. I asked him why the question; only then did he disclose that wagging tongues told Rabbi that our conversion wasn't sincere. Of course, he being new to the shul during our crisis, he had not met us but maybe twice. I was crushed as he asked where we had gone and I asked, "Why? I just told you we were in Alabama." He said he was told that my husband and I had left to join some large messianic congregation about 5 miles north of shul. I could not believe what I was hearing! Go to a messianic congregation? No way! We didn't even nor did we care that such a place existed! This shul was our home! We gave up EVERYTHING in our lives to choose this Path and cold wagging tongues prevented the one thing my husband needed...undying support! Once one goes to Mikva, a new name is given, a new family surrounds you, a new Covenant becomes your own. But gerim walk in the gray shadow of who they were and who they are now. Days are spent trying to keep kosher and not forget what or how to pray. Avraham Avinu and Sarah Imanu become your parents while your own earthly parents still live...during mourning, you sit alone in a room of people whose beliefs you have discarded but your loved ones deserve your sorrow...the respect is still required. Sadly, my husband is less inclined to be in shul while I, on the other hand, have made every effort to be there as my health permits. I am now physically unable to walk far due to a heart which works only 15-20% of what it should be. We still observe and remember but no one calls since the elder gabbaim (of blessed memory) who once called have passed away. My husband is met with unwarranted suspicion and our ArtScroll library provides him some refuge. We are gerim no longer...we are Israel...and we need your love, support, your compassion...lest we die.

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      • M

        MM -6 years ago

        Leave and find a different congregation that welcomes and loves you. Don't stick around where you are not warmly embraced!! And don't give 100 reasons why you can't change your congregation or community - if it's for the sake of your mental and emotional and spiritual health, you can find a way! Good luck!!

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    • MH

      M hason -5 years ago



      This is such a powerful and beautiful poem. thank you SO MUCH for posting it. 


      Blown away. 

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  • MA

    Mordechai Adler -7 years ago

    הראש ישיבה שלי בבית מדרש לתורה במונסי, ר' שמואל אביגדור פייבלזון שליט"א, שה' ישלח לו רפו"ש במהרה, תמיד נהג לומר שלכל יצר הרע יש גבול, מי שיש לו יצר לדבר לשון הרע - לא יגנוב, לגנוב - לא ירצח, לרצוח - לא יעבוד ע"ז ואפילו מי שיש לו יצר הרע לעבוד ע"ז, לא ידבר לשון הרע. היוצא מן הכלל הוא ה"יצר הרע לשם שמים". לשם שמים אפשר לדבר לשון הרע, לגנוב, לרצוח, לנאוף ואפילו לעבוד עבודה זרה.

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  • GTF

    Get the Facts -7 years ago

    The link doesn't work for me - it says video not found. Can it please be reposted?

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  • ME

    Malka Edery -7 years ago

    Rabbi Jacobson, you never disappoint, great lecture thanks you so much!

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  • JPA

    Jewish Parent Academy -7 years ago

    Wonderful talk, Rabbi!

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  • D

    Danielle -7 years ago

    I have never ever heard a Rabbi speak so much truth, with such compassion. Rabbi Jacobson, I really pray that your speech will be spread all over the world, to every community, to every family, teachers, Rabbi's so that, now everyone will start recognising that starting communication and going on from that point to help all those who are crying out, all the disfuctional behaviours that are going on, the lies, deceit, etc. May you go from strength to strength, spreading and teaching the truth. Thank you

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  • N

    Nationwatch -7 years ago

    This is a remarkably wholesome speech; his objectivity finds relevance across religious spheres and societies, irrespective of race or creed.Patrick Biachi

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  • L

    leah -7 years ago

    I wish to applaud Rabbi Jacobson for his relentless unstoppable passion to educate the Jewish community in this area. His candidness of the subject is refreshing. I am sure he is making a huge impact paving the way for a stigma free and increased tolerance within the community and families, which will ultimately literaly save countless lives and reunite families.

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